The ancient city owes its name to the most important Macedonian sanctuary dedicated to Zeus (Dios, “of Zeus”), leader of the gods who dwelt on Mount Olympus; as recorded by Hesiod’s Catalogue of Women, Thyia, daughter of Deucalion, bore Zeus two sons, Magnes and Makednos,
eponyms of Magnetes and Macedonians, who dwelt in Pieria at the foot of Mount Olympus. Hence from very ancient times, a large altar had been set up for the worship of Olympian Zeus and his daughters, the Muses, in a unique environment characterised by rich vegetation, towering trees, countless springs and a navigable river. For this reason Dion was the “sacred place” of the Ancient Macedonians. It was the place where the kings made splendid sacrifices to celebrate the new year of the Macedonian calendar at the end of September. In the Spring, purification rites of the army and victory feasts were held.
The first mention of Dion in history comes from Thucydides, who reports that it was the first city reached by the Spartan general Brasidas after crossing from Thessaly into Macedon on his way through the realm of his ally Perdiccas II during his expedition against the Athenian colonies of Thrace in 424 BC. According to Diodorus Siculus, it was Archelaus I who, at the end of the 5th century BC when the Macedonian state acquired great power and emerged onto the stage of history, gave the city and its sanctuary their subsequent importance by instituting a nine-day festival of games that included athletic and dramatic competitions in honor of Zeus and the Muses, whose organisation was overseen by the Macedonian kings themselves.
Every year in Dion there is a Mosaic Exhibition at the Center for Mediterranean Mosaics within the framework of the Olympus Festival. From a sports point of view, the existence of the Dion Fans Club, with the name “O Defkalion”, should be mentioned.
East of the town of Litochoro is the area of Plaka, known in Pieria as Plaka of Litochoro.
The area extends from Leptokarya to the port of Gritsa. The E75 highway (Athens-Thessaloniki National Road) passes through Plaka.
Plaka beach has a variety of hotels, restaurants, tourist campsites and nightclubs as it is a tourist destination for many residents of the prefectures of Pieria, Thessaloniki and Larissa. In Plaka Litochoro there are also luxury houses, estates with olive trees and tobacco.
The Monastery of Agios Dionysios in Olympus is a Greek Orthodox monastery on the slopes of Mount Olympus, the most important monastery in the Pieria Prefecture.
It is located on Mount Olympus, at an altitude of 900 m. In a fortified position between two streams and is 18 km from Litochoro.
The Old Monastery was founded in the 16th century by Saint Dionysios on Olympus and during the years of Ottoman rule it experienced economic and spiritual prosperity. After 1821 it was occupied by the Turkish army, set on fire and looted.
In 1943 it was blown up by the German Wehrmacht. Since then she was transferred to her Metochi, near Litochoro. Until 1928 the Monastery was Stavropegian, Patriarchal under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Throne.
In 1928 it was annexed to the New Countries. Today he develops spiritual and charitable activity, with all-day confessions and spiritual teachings every Sunday morning after the end of the Divine Liturgy, as well as dialogues, conferences and all-night vigils.
It celebrates on January 23, which is also the day of remembrance of Saint Dionysios. Also, on September 14, the local feast of the Cross is celebrated in the Old Monastery of Agios Dionysios.
The monastery was founded by Saint Dionysius on Olympus around 1542, during the reign of Patriarch Jeremiah II (1522-1546) and when Suleiman I (1520-1566) was Sultan.
The Saint, returning from Pelion, received permission from the Turkish Aga of the area to build a free monastery and in fact he was given the ownership of the area.
Dionysios on Olympus built cells, chapels and mills while he took care of the enrichment of the monastery with heirlooms, relics of saints, icons (he was the same hagiographer), with a library of patriarchal texts and wrote regulations for the smooth operation of the Monastery.
Many monks soon followed him to the Monastery, as the saint’s fame spread with his miracles and his simple Christian life.
Almost 35 years after the founding of the Monastery, we have written testimony about the radiation it emitted in a letter from Theodosios Zygomalas to Stefanos Gerlach, demonstrating the impressively large number of monks who existed in the monastery in such a short period of time since its founding.